Franciscans International Collaborates with UN To Protect Religious Minorities

HNP Communications Franciscan World

GENEVA — The United Nations offices in New York and Geneva were the locations for two recent events co-organized by Franciscans International.

“Freedom of Religion & Belief and Culture of Impunity: Principal Challenge to Protect Rights of Religious Minorities” took place on March 7 at the United Nations in New York. The panel was comprised of prominent human rights defenders from India, Sri Lanka and Iraq, including Bishop Sarat Chandra Nayak, president of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribal Commission of Orissa Catholic Bishops Council of India.

On Feb. 29, FI hosted 11 OFM Capuchin friars from across Europe for a one-day introductory workshop on FI’s advocacy work at the U.N. The FI advocates presented a brief introduction on the U.N. human rights mechanisms and how the organization works internationally to address human rights issues. In the afternoon, the Capuchin friars visited the U.N. office in Geneva to observe a session of the Human Rights Council, which debated freedom of expression on the Internet, especially in light of its use during the Arab spring.

Other FI Initiatives
The February issue of the Franciscan Voice, FI’s newsletter, shared other organizational news.

A devotional booklet has been made available for Lent, “Seven Last Words of Jesus Today.” In reviewing Jesus words, “My God, why have you forsaken me?” Christians can get a better understanding of who he was. The Voice says that the booklet is good for individuals or groups, and links the time of Jesus with the suffering and systemic injustice that is still part of the human condition today. The booklet can be downloaded off the FI website.

A “Regional Workshop on Indigenous Peoples’ Rights and Advocacy” was held in Bangkok last month. Over five days, 38 participants from 10 countries heard representatives from U.N. agencies speak about international and regional policies. Representatives from the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact shared their experiences in advocating for the rights of indigenous people in Asia Pacific.

FI was also mentioned in the newsletter of the Province of the Sacred Heart, Joliet, Ill., on Feb. 23. Around the Province reminded readers about FI’s five-day OFM Conventual Conference held in early January in Honduras. Franciscans shared their missionary work for justice, peace and integrity of creation across North America.

The organization now has offices in Geneva, Bangkok and New York.

— Compiled by Wendy Healy